From the NY Times:
ANYONE who has stepped into the often-stressful real estate market in New Jersey lately can hardly help being aware that it is an increasingly rude arena.
With the supercilious buyers, hypersensitive sellers, inconsiderate sales agents and adversarial lawyers, “it really can be a jungle out there,” said Roberta Plutzik Baldwin, a broker for Keller Williams Realty in Montclair, somewhat ruefully.
“In a climate like this, where so many people feel financial anxiety, and sometimes every $100 is an important issue,” she said, “anger and animus seem to come out more frequently.”
Even when people have “tons of money,” said Karen Eastman Bigos, a broker for Towne Realty Group in Short Hills, more and more are “harsh” with remarks and attitudes, especially buyers.
Yet Ms. Bigos and Ms. Baldwin were among a number of real estate professionals emphasizing that courtesy still counts a lot and can sometimes be crucial to getting a deal done at all.
“Many, many times,” Ms. Bigos said, “I’m seeing deals turn on politeness, or the lack of it.”
Ken Baris of Jordan Baris Realtors in West Orange said, “Huge, huge — courtesy is huge.” He recalled selling a house a couple of years ago for a professional hockey player to a buyer who had been taken with the property. The buyer had explained in a warm letter how much it would mean to live in the player’s house. Even though a competing bidder offered $100,000 more during the three-day attorney-review period mandated in New Jersey, the player went with the letter-writing buyer.
Even if everyone is civil, or even gracious, during the precontractual phase, things can get strained when lawyers enter the picture, several brokers pointed out. In today’s market, much of the wrangling over price actually takes place after a buyer has a home inspection done — whereupon a lawyer writes a letter demanding that the seller either pay for repairs or offer a price discount.
“A seller gets a scathing letter from an attorney saying ‘this, that and the other, and more’ has to be fixed, and a seller can be offended,” said Susan Hughes Hunter, the vice president of Lois Schneider Realtor in Summit.
“People feel this is their home, their blood, sweat and tears,” she noted, “and this letter makes it look like the house is falling down. The way attorneys speak is black-and-white, and in truth, it’s not really their job to say, ‘Oh, please, we would so love it if you would be kind enough to fix your roof.’ ”
Ms. Baldwin of Keller Williams says she always urges both buyers and sellers not to take such things personally, and to “think of a real estate sale as business, nothing more.”